A NOTORIOUS gang member who rammed into police cars after a dramatic chase through the streets of Coventry has been jailed.
Nigel Barwell reversed his van into the cars as officers tried to stop him, and hit another vehicle while driving on the wrong side of the road – leaving one police officer fearing he was about to be run over.
The 29 year-old of Hepworth Road, Binley, admitted dangerous driving and was given a 32-month prison sentence at Warwick Crown Court yesterday (Thursday, February18 ). He was also banned from driving for three years.
The incidents took place during a late-night pursuit through residential areas at up to 50mph as Nigel Barwell tried to escape after being seen driving without his headlights on at around 10.10pm on March 14 last year.
He was followed and reversed towards the police car in North Street, which narrowly avoided being hit.
Barwell then reversed his van into a patrol vehicle in Siddeley Avenue – leaving two officers with neck and back injuries.
He then rammed into two more police cars which were trying to block the road in Willenhall Lane
Prosecutor Trevor Meegan said after Barwell rammed his vehicle, PC Horton got out the car.
He added: “PC Horton got out, and as he did so the defendant rammed the car again, causing Pc Horton to be struck by his door and thrown to the ground, suffering cuts and bruises to his knee.”
The van also hit a Peugeot while travelling on the wrong side of the road in Bulls Head Lane as tried to make his escape.
Barwell was arrested at his girlfriend’s house in Hepworth Road, having abandoned the van in Chelney Walk. He was suspected of drink driving but failed to provide a sample.
He initially denied being the driver of the van but police identified him and DNA from a drinks can found next to the handbrake also linked him to the vehicle.
Prosecutor Mr Meegan said Barwell had caused damage totalling £17,122 to the three police cars, and the Peugeot driver believed her £12,000 car would be written off because of the damage to it.
Ian Jobling, defending, conceded Barwell’s driving was ‘dreadful’, but argued the assault on the officer was committed by Barwell reversing into the car – not aiming directly at the officer.
He added: “We’re not talking of someone deliberately driving his vehicle at somebody, although of course he did drive deliberately at the police vehicle.”
Barwell had originally denied dangerous driving, but had changed his plea to guilty on the day of his trial last month, when he also admitted assaulting PC Robert Horton.
The Judge, Alan Parker, said Barwell had a ‘terrible track record’ and was ‘plainly enticing’ officers to stop him.
Detective Constable Ruth Morris, from Coventry Police, said: “This was an extreme case of dangerous driving where Barwell repeatedly rammed into police vehicles.
“He also collided with a member of the public who was reversing off her drive and it was just good fortune that no-one was seriously hurt by his actions.”
Barwell’s sentence is the latest in a series of successes for police in Coventry who are currently running Operation Blue Steel − a blitz on organised crime operating across the city.